When Rose, a young English nurse with humanitarian ideals, decides to volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, she is little prepared for the experiences that await her. Working on one front after another, witness to all the horrors of war, she falls in love with a Republican fighter, Miguel. In 1939 as defeat becomes inevitable, Rose is faced with a decision that will change her life and leave her with lasting scars. Interspersed with Rose’s story is that of Consuelo, a girl growing up in a staunchly Catholic family on the other side of the ideological divide. Never quite belonging, treated unkindly, she discovers at a young age that she was adopted but her attempts to learn more about her origins are largely thwarted. It falls to the third generation, to Consuelo’s daughter Marisol, born in the year of Franco’s death and growing up in a rapidly changing Spain, to investigate the dark secrets of her family and find the answers that have until now eluded her mother.
I hope you like this interview
1.When and where do you prefer to write?
I’m at my best, my most creative in the morning, though ideas can come at any time. I use my spare bedroom as a study-cum-writing room. My desk is by the window and as I’m lucky enough to live in a very sunny part of the world (Granada in Spain), on most days of the year, I have the sun streaming in. It does make a difference. I’ve noticed that on the few grey days, I feel less inspired! From my window, I look across the valley to wooded hills and the beautiful white summer palace of the Alhambra, the Generalife.
2. Do you have a certain ritual?
Not really. I start by going over what I’ve written the day before and revising it. I find that helps get me back into the story so that I can move on with it. But I don’t think that counts as a ritual.
3. Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
I try not to take any food into my writing room as crumbs attract bugs – my house hosts everything from ants and woodlice to centipedes and locusts, though the resident geckos help by gobbling up the smaller ones. In the summer I usually have a glass of water to hand. From time to time I’ll wander out to the kitchen and snack on whatever delicious fruit is in season.
4. What is your favourite book?
That’s a really hard question; there are so many books I love. But if I have to choose one, I’ll go for Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning for his lyrical writing and the freshness of his observations as a 19 year-old youth busking his way through 1930s Spain with his violin.
5. Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
My novels don’t tend to fit easily into a genre. But I am working on a memoir, which I’ve never done before, so the answer must be yes.
6. Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Never directly. I would say my characters are based on my knowledge of people, acquired over a lifetime, but that’s not the same thing. I draw on my observations and experience and I’m incorrigibly curious about people – about what motivates them, how they negotiate their lives and relationships.
7. Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
When I remember. Often I forget and have to rummage around in my bag for some scrap of paper – a ticket or receipt or even a paper serviette – that I can use to write down an idea.
8. Which genre do you not like at all?
There are genres I rarely read: fantasy, horror, crime… But I can think of books I’ve loved and admired in nearly all genres. I might once have said war novels. But now I’ve written one myself – though The Red Gene is much more than a war novel.
9. If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
If it was fiction, a man perhaps, to get the male take on life. No particular man in mind but probably not a man I was in a relationship with!
10. If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
I already live in a foreign country, Spain, although after twenty years it no longer feels like a foreign country, it feels like home. I love travel so an excuse for spending a longish time in another country certainly appeals. It would have to be a country where I could speak the language so perhaps one of the South or Central American countries that have long been on my bucket list. Or India, which fascinates me, and where English is widely spoken. These days with the Internet and Google, you can research almost any subject without even leaving your desk. However, to set a novel (let alone write a travel book) in another country, it seems to me that you have to spend a considerable time there in order to absorb its ambience: the people, the culture, the landscape in all its seasons.
Thank you, Barbara Lamplugh and Love Books Group Tours.
About the author
Barbara Lamplugh was born and grew up in the suburbs of London. After gaining a degree in Language and English from York University, she trained as a librarian and worked in public libraries in Shropshire before the travel bug took hold, followed by the writing bug (see Author page).
In the meantime, her day jobs included working as a librarian, as a project officer for Age Concern (inspiration for one of her earlier novels), running a Volunteer Bureau and, briefly, recording milk yields on Shropshire farms. She also found time to train as a counsellor and use her skills with two local charities, and to write occasional articles for magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian.
In 1999, with her two children now independent, she moved to Granada, Spain, where she found work as an English teacher, an editor and translator and a features writer for the magazine Living Spain, the job of her dreams. At the same time, she continued to write fiction. As she gradually got under the skin of her adopted city and country, she began to choose Spanish settings for her novels. Secrets of the Pomegranate, published in 2015, was set in Granada. The Red Gene, due out in April 2019, is set in various locations in both Spain and England.
Besides writing, she enjoys cycling, walking, dancing, jazz and, of course, reading. Although happily settled in Granada, she makes regular visits to the UK to spend time with her children and grandchildren.